Broadstairs, Thanet, May 2017

by Emma Bumpus on June 7, 2017

Coastal adventure with a twist of 4 star luxury and heaps of quintessential seaside entertainment drives careertraveller and family to the Isle of Thanet, an infinite shoreline adventure.

Azure blue sky and billowing sail like clouds bring the Mediterranean to this picturesque harbour side town teeming with historical and unique treasure, including The Yarrow Hotel. Driving in to the generous red tiled car park is a VIP experience as the eyes soar high to capture this rather majestic and imposing Victorian Grade II Listed building. Greeted by sunny rays, random parakeets and East Kent College, whom own and operate the hotel, we enter the UKs first and only training hotel run by a further education provider.

Inside the lobby awaits a pristine white open space whose lofty ceiling adorned with contemporary pendant lights oozes a fresh panache that comes with a recent, 2016, £10.5 million makeover. Black and white checkerboard floor tiles create an elegant and strikingly timeless entrance with a traditional hexagonal symmetry that shows respect for the building’s history and British heritage.

A welcoming check-in brings an introduction to a range of facilities that lead the eye round a tastefully decorated luxury boutique hotel, which set in a former convalescent home built in 1893 by Sir Alfred Yarrow, offers guests a stimulating mix of leisure.

A fashionable lounge decorated with modern seating and warm spotlights brings a pleasing Edwardian inspired palette of contrasting creams and royal blue, which interspersed with fuchsia pink cushions brings a chic ambiance to the adjacent bar area that sparkles with 21st century hospitality and modernity! A Salon & Spa mooch takes us to a calm Dermalogica skin health fitness oasis, which brimming with leather sofas, gifts and treatments bursts with revive and relaxation.

We take a Yarrow break and hit the promenade; a 5-minute stroll that takes us to the well-manicured cliff top Victoria Gardens that boasts a pretty fertile green with bandstand, clock tower and nearby Lillyputt Minigolf. Here 12 championship holes, not forgetting the lucky 13th, take us on a amusing family outing around windmills, obelisks and rather quirky fishing boat with imitation shark and nets. A gentle reminder we play amidst the biggest fishing industry in the south east!

Situated in a fragrant and beautifully maintained garden of architectural evergreen and sub tropical palms we putt amongst a rainbow of sun-loving borders teeming with vividly vigorous coneflowers and warm climate Atlantic plants, including the towering jewel Echium Pininana!

Brunch is a feathery light teacake, which delivered fresh from local bakers Crusties to the famous canopied Tea Garden is an insight to this charming family run business, which since 1995 has cleverly preserved the former Jack Nun Putting Green. Advertised in the 1930s with having ‘seven powerful’ floodlit’ lamps overlooking the sea, we begin some serious time travelling in the renowned ‘Jewel in Thanet’s Crown’ and set sail for scholarly treasure at the Dickens House Museum. A charming wrought iron gated garden with summer meadow flowers is an invitation inside the Victorian author’s inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in his novel David Copperfield.

A guided tour by Curator ‘Lee’ is a superb insight to the life and history of Charles Dickens, whom we discover relished holidaying in Broadstairs, hence reflected in the museum’s authentic display of memorabilia, including letters, books such as Nicholas Nickelby and mahogany desk. A recreation of Betsey Trotwood’s Parlour is a tribute to the literary hero whose seaside sojourns echo the adjacent The Charles Dickens gastropub, whose devoted Copperfields Restaurant delivers Broadstairs on a Fishermans Platter overlooking Viking Bay.

Stunning views of the curved sandy ‘Seaside Award’ beach and timber harbour illuminate Dickens love and reference to the area in his literature, which prepares us for a lavish trawler of locally sourced fish. Fresh and plump creamy oysters start the show and bring the smell of the seashore to the table, which accompanied by delicate devilled whitebait fried perfectly with spice and seasoning ignites the seafood appetite for some seriously good light and golden crunch salt and pepper squid that hums with Thanet’s salty air! Dessert menu options bring a showpiece to the table with a Kentish Cherry and Orange Cheesecake Crumble that sits pretty in a glass topped with juicy cherry and orange zest cascading down to salivating tiers of cream, vanilla ice cream and crispy biscuit.

Revitalised and replenished in such wondrous scenery is a reminder of Dickens affection for Broadstairs“Our English Watering Place”. A leisurely afternoon spent indulging independent art shops and gelato at Morellis ice cream parlour takes us past the vintage flint fronted Palace Cinema whom take pride in offering a harbour side digital sound, large screen cinema with 111 seats! Amongst an abundance of eateries and traditional seafront crabbing paraphernalia we take the Viking Bay boardwalk and lap up the surf and sandy cove rides.

Evening brings dining delight at the Yarrow whose 64-cover restaurant boasts a glistening wine glass chandelier, caramel coloured leather seats and teal decorated walls adorned with period photos that depict the Yarrow legacy. Pictures of students captured in the 1960s add a stylish glamour to the menu, which designed by award winning chef Ben Williams, a former lecturer at the college, brings a deliciously native appeal to the hotel’s kitchen.

Flawless hospitality reflects the college’s recent ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report and reveals a team of dedicated, friendly and customer focussed staff that care about their guests. Whilst the ‘little un’ is helped with an alternative menu the adults take unadulterated pleasure with the tender selection of Kentish lamb main, which placed artistically alongside a trio of dainty potato cake Pomme Anna with splash of dainty broad beans and delicately cooked baby carrots, brings plot to plate.

Raspberry soufflé to milk chocolate earl grey mousse with chocolate brownie and banana ice cream offer a bold and inspiring choice for this unique training hotel, offering catering and hospitality students hands on experience and a seal of excellent customer service.

Wined, dined and impressed we retire to our interconnecting Suites, whose calming Edwardian inspired powder blue walls and spacious Victorian inspired black and white bathroom radiates extravagance and luxury travel. High ceilings with white woodwork and ceilings enhance the light- filled space and display a subtle twist of old and new. Original period fireplace and modish furnishings such as trendy pendant lamps and neutrally cool and comfortable sofa and chairs are enough to make us want to move in!

Breakfast at the Yarrow is a fine affair with hot and cold choice of continental versus full English, not forgetting the vegetarian option and plentiful fruit in the restaurant. We take ours in the conservatory like ‘Solarium’ that runs along the building, absorbing Thanet rays that once improved the health of the poorly whilst overlooking verdant grounds.

Ready for some coastal adventure we make waves for 7 sunny bays around Broadstairs. Intact with Thanet’s new Coastal Explorers Pack we hit the prestigious Blue Flag beaches for some fun and friendly family rock pooling. Equipped with fishing net, compass, binoculars and maps we uncover seaweed and chalky white cliffs that lead us to sea caves, wildlife and candy coloured beach huts at Stone Bay. Ascending to the North Foreland Lighthouse we cloud spot en route to surfers dream Joss Bay and savour stunning cliff top views along the famously infinite Viking Coastal Trail.

Clean beaches, rocky shores and saltwater air return us to Viking Bay where we make a pit stop of Charles Dickens legendary holiday home Bleak House, which sits mysterious and majestically like a fortress above the harbour. Inside his former ‘airy nest’ rests a handsome four floor Grade II Listed elegant home and mansion, which built in 1801 booms with history. Room to room is a step back in time with tales of the local fort captain during the Napoleanic War to the creation of Dickens works Bleak House and David Copperfield.

A tour of the historical accommodation opens our eyes to this present day wedding venue and luxury Bed and Breakfast, whose rooms named after characters Fagin and Little Doritt are a sophisticated tribute to the novelist whose study still contains his original desk overlooking the North Sea. It is the Copperfield Bridal Suite that grabs the Careertraveller limelight with sumptuous period furniture, luxury bathroom double bath and romantic balcony overlooking Viking Bay that marks ‘the residence he most desired’.

A final peek in the basement Smuggling Museum, revealed in the 1970s, is a treasure trove of shipwreck relics washed into Viking Bay and highlights why Broadstairs is just one big holiday! Just 85 minutes from St. Pancras International in London with Southeastern’s high speed service, one trip is never enough!

Further information:

Yarrow Hotel
Lillyputt Minigolf
Dickens House Museum
Bleak House
The Charles Dickens
Visit Thanet – official tourist board
Coastal Explorer Pack

Details of the Broadstairs Dickens Festival, which celebrates it’s 80th anniversary this month can be found on the following link Broadstairs Dickens Festival.

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